Hosted by the UK Tabligh Department UK on 15 and 25 May 2019
Muhammad Ibrahim Ikhlaf
UK Tabligh Secretary
By the grace of Allah, two Big Iftars for Ramadan 2019 were organised by the National Tabligh Department. The first one got off to a great start on Wednesday, 15 May, while the second one was attended by a huge number of guests on Saturday, 25 May.
Alhamdolillah, both events were enormously successful and guests attended in record breaking numbers. Over 205 guests attended the first iftar (despite it being a mid-week event) while over 400 guests attended the second one. In total, over 605 guests attended this year’s events compared to 385 for last year. This represents an increase of 57%. This substantial and dramatic increase reflects a more systematic approach to attracting guests.
Based on the feedback received from guests, the overwhelming reaction was that they learnt a great deal about Islam, Ahmadiyyat and Ramadan, and very much enjoyed the event. As in previous years, the purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity for the guests, coming from all walks of life, to experience at first hand an Islamic religious event and thereby to increase their understanding of Islam and what it actually stands for.
An organising committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib, the National Secretary Tabligh UK and assisted by Nadim Vanderman Sahib and Danayal Zia Sahib was formed. A number of team heads were appointed and each was given responsibilities for the event. The committee met weekly to organise the event. At the Jamaat level, meetings with local presidents and local tabligh secretaries were held and they were requested to spread the word among their members, and to invite tabligh contacts, neighbours, friends, work colleagues, teachers, etc. A flyer for the event was produced and was widely circulated to all Jamaats. A separate team was formed to invite guests such as religious and community leaders, academics, charity workers, teachers etc.
A promotional video was made and distributed widely. Good use of social media was made on various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and NextDoor with success. A press release was produced and issued to local newspapers. Surrey Comet published this before the event. After the first iftar, a further press release was issued and as a result of this, prominent articles with photos were published by Surrey Comet and Wimbledon Times. As a result of this and other efforts mentioned above, there was significant increase in attendance. Alhamdolillah!
The format for both events were similar and followed the established pattern of registration, guided tours of the mosque, visits to the exhibition areas and light refreshments.
The second Big Iftar on 25 May 2019 commenced under the chairmanship of Mansoor Shah Sahib, Naib Amir UK. Alongside him was Muhammad Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib, National Secretary Tabligh UK. In addition, at the head table were the Mayor of Merton Councillor Janice Howard, MP for Mitcham and Merton Siobhain McDonagh and Leader of Merton Council Stephen Alambritis and members of the UK amila.
Tilawat was recited by Bilal Mahmood Sahib and its English translation was read by Danesh Sheikh Sahib. The welcome address and introductory remarks were given by Nadim Vanderman Sahib. This was followed by an Introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community by Naseem Bajwa Sahib, Imam of the Baitul Futuh Mosque. He said that the Jamaat was founded in a small town in India and has now spread to most countries of the world.
Tahir Nasser Sahib spoke eloquently on Ramadan. He explained its purpose and removed many misconceptions. Siobhain McDonald spoke briefly on the warm and inclusive nature of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Many guests asked questions during the question and answer session and these were responded to by the panel.
The vote of thanks was given by the mayor of Merton. Mansoor Shah Sahib gave the concluding remarks and ended the formal session with a silent prayer. Maghrib Azan was given by Bilal Mahmood Sahib. The guests joined in with the breaking of the fast and many went to observe the Maghrib prayer. Many lively discussions took place over dinner which was served afterwards.
Pakistani TV channels Geo and Aaj and the Arabic TV channel Al Hurra were present and recorded the event for later transmission.
Guests were greatly interested in the literature and many took the following books: The Holy Quran, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, Life of Muhammad, World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace, Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat etc.
After the event, Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib said, ‘The Big Iftar helps us to challenge misconceptions about Islam. The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive and it was successful in clarifying aspects of Islamic belief which are often misunderstood.
Comments were received in answer to questions, such as:
What did you like about the events?
- “The tour was fantastic and I really enjoyed learning more about the Muslim religion”
- “I got to know more about Islam and meet people from the Muslim community”
- “Great people and I met interesting people”
- “The speech and explanation about Ramadan was quite informative”
- “I really enjoyed sharing a special occasion with members of the local community and being welcomed in so well (also the delicious food)”
How has the event helped in understanding Islam in a new light?
- “Yes, I have a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of the different sects of Islam”
- “Greatly. I had some understanding, but I learnt a lot today”
- “Yes, I found out more about Islam, principles, rules and laws, how prayers in the mosque look like and questions and answers were very informative”
Any final thoughts?
- “Thank you so much for inviting us”
- “Looking forward to more community events”
- “A great event for broadening cultural relationships”
- “It would be great to see more women up on stage on the panel”